Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos. HR consultantOn 21 May 2002 in Personnel Today A ‘leap into the dark’ mentality may sound like a job requirement for aparatrooper, but the ability and courage to take personal risks in uncertaincircumstances is equally as applicable to would-be HR consultants. Whether you’re setting up on your own or joining a large consultancy youwill be entering a hard-headed business world where bonuses and targets have amajor importance and the flow of work is largely dependent on one person alone:you. And while some HR departments may view consultancy as a cushy number, thereality couldn’t be further from the truth. Along with securing work,consultants have to establish themselves in a fiercely competitive market. Thismeans not only keeping up to speed with the latest HR trends, but to undertakeextra training where necessary as well as exploiting contacts to secure as muchwork as possible. But more than anything, says Richard Chiumento, head of theChiumento Consulting Group, your feet need to be planted firmly on the ground.”If I had to give one bit of advice to new consultants it would be: ‘Don’tunderestimate the difficulty of becoming a successful consultant; the vastmajority fail.’” For some consultants these business skills may take time to perfect.However, time is not a commodity consultants have in abundance. A successfulconsultant is usually one who can combine the ability to produce good work withthe economic imperative of securing further employment. And for those who arenew to consultancy, these contacts can often be in short supply and quicklyexhausted. Julie Holden, owner of Spring Consultancy, describes consultancy as “ajuggling act between delivering a service and wondering where your next clientis”. As well as being able to think on your feet, you have to be a good marketeer-both to sell your skills and deliver on your promise and that you will do itbetter than any rival consultancy. This will involve researching the companyyou are working for – studying financial reports, and analysing the companyculture to identify where help is most needed and how best to operate withinthe company structure. As Ian Florence, director of ASE Consulting, points out:”You need to understand the company you’re working for. Consulting is allabout understanding an organisation’s needs, defining a solution for them thatworks and demonstrating the benefits of that solution.” The 2001 Review by the Management Consultants Association indicates that 96per cent of clients prefer to have some form of relationship. Those that haveexperienced first hand your ability to produce good work on deadline are farmore likely to refer you to their colleagues and associates. Even when these clients move on, they are likely to retain your servicesshould the need arise some time in the future. John Baker, head of practice atrecruitment consultancy Macmillan Davies Hodes, says: “It’s a relationshipbusiness. Once you have clients who know and trust you they will come back,whoever they are working for.” It is because of this fluctuating nature that an HR consultant’s averageearnings are difficult to calculate. Starting out a consultant could charge aslittle as £150 a day. At the top end of the scale consultants can expect toearn a minimum of £100,000 a year. And for some the rewards are far, far higher– to hire the consulting services of one leading management guru is in theregion of £100,000 a day. Quite simply, an HR consultant could earn as much astheir reputation, experience and work ethic permits. But consultancy is not all working at the leading-edge of HR. There is amore mundane side to the job – knowing how to run a business as well as keepingup with self-employment regulations. There can also be financial pitfalls. Along with having to shoulder theexpense of paying for office equipment and technology (tax deductible ofcourse), you could have to wait several months for fees which may presentdifficulties with cash flow. Above all, you have to be determined, and have an unwavering belief in yourabilities. As Sue Wotruba, a senior consultant at Penna Change Consulting, points out:”A consultant has to be completely self-sufficient as they may have tomake lots of decisions at short notice, sometimes in the middle of nowhere, andproduce work of a very high standard.” Case study Richard Chiumento, director of Chiumento Consulting GroupRichard Chiumento founded the Chiumento Consulting Group 10 years ago. Ithas since become one of the UK’s leading HR consultancies with 100 HRconsultants and 300 HR interim managers on its books.Chiumento began in HR in the early 1970s, moving into consultancy nearly 20years ago. Now dividing his time between Chiumento’s offices in Oxford andLondon he has been involved in major projects within financial services,manufacturing and the electronics sector. The consultancy has recently securedone of the largest HR outplacement and restructuring assignments ever – a dealthat will take six years to complete.Specialising in change management and management restructuring, Chiumentobelieves that successful consultancy stems from advising HR to develop and growtheir businesses in a commercially sensitive way. His guiding ethos is to keepthings simple and avoid overcomplication.He also stresses the need to develop an understanding with clients.”Successful consultancy is all about building relationships,” hesays, and developing trust is a key element of this. With new clients Chiumentoadvises that you both promise and deliver on something that’s relatively easyto measure. “A lot of HR people are nervous of taking risks when an HRconsultant is new,” he says. “You have to take something small thatcan be tested and prove how effective you are.” By concentrating on thesesmall building blocks Chiumento believes he has developed relationships basedon mutual trust that encourage clients to use his services wherever they happento be working.Along with building trust, Richard Chiumento also sets out to present asprofessional an image as possible, focusing on punctuality, smart appearanceand frequent communication with clients. Through this he believes he hasdeveloped a client-centred brand image that makes it clear what the consultancystands for and what it can deliver.”To be a successful consultant you have to manage your time well, keepyour finger on the pulse of the industry, help others to manage themselves andkeep your promises. But you also have to develop a valuable and client-centredbrand that makes it clear to everyone what you stand for and exactly what youcan deliver,” he says.